WASHINGTON — The Bush Administration has told manufacturers of six semiautomatic assault-style rifles banned from import last summer that new, revised versions of the weapons conform to U.S. laws, officials said Monday.
"We have approved prototypes and said: 'If you manufacture this weapon for import, it would be approved,' " said Jack Killorin, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The bureau was not immediately aware of whether the manufacturers or importers of such weapons as the Uzi carbine and the AK-47 had sought permits to bring in any of the new weapons, he said. Since the new designs lack the military-style hardware of the banned weapons, gun fanciers may not want them and the manufacturers may decide not to bother producing them, he said.
"They have to ask whether what we're asking for is a marketable item," Killorin said.
The Bush Administration last summer banned from import 43 types of semiautomatic assault-style rifles. That ban followed an outcry over the January, 1989, slayings of five elementary school children in Stockton, Calif., by a transient wielding an AK-47. In addition, law enforcement officials had complained that the weapons were extremely popular among drug dealers.
The ATF justified the ban by saying the weapons did not meet the legal requirement that imported rifles be suitable for sporting purposes.
The banned guns had such military-style characteristics as threaded barrels for silencers, flash suppressors that could hide the shooter's position at night, bayonet lugs, folding or collapsible stocks, pistol grips and large capacity magazines.
Receiving approval for new versions of banned weapons were the makers of the Uzi carbine, AK-47, Galil, HK-91, SAR-8 and SAR-4800, according to documents obtained by the Firearms Policy Project through the Freedom of Information Act.